WASHINGTON - Cheryl L. Ferrara, a former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits for the District of Columbia Office of Inspector General, was sentenced today to 180 days incarceration on each count with the execution of the sentence suspended on charges of filing false statements and second degree fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Charles J. Willoughby, Inspector General for the District of Columbia.
It’s not just that a high official in the District’s watchdog agency admitted to fraud. A review of the charging documents (included below) shows that Ferrara developed a scheme to skirt the city’s own employment regulations. To wit, she helped her child’s former babysitter take advantage of the District government’s local hiring preference by deceiving officials into thinking that her friend lived in the city when she in fact did not. Ferrara was accused of forging a lease and a notary stamp and setting up a straw bank account to fool the city’s HR department.
And to add insult, Ferrara was also serving as treasurer of the Association of Inspectors General, and she used the association’s bank account to aid in the scheme. According to a Justice Department release, Ferrara also admitted to using more than $10,000 in association funds for personal purposes.
The good news: Investigators in Willoughby’s office uncovered the fraud and laid the groundwork for a successful prosecution. The bad news is that, while there might be a great amount of scrutiny of our elected officials, there are many others in trusted government positions who are ready and willing to abuse that trust.